Trust and Sarcasm and Irony and Such

With Whom do You (Dare to) Share… stories of surf trips, where you went and when you started (better trips start pre-dawn, the best end well after sunset), who you went with, why you went (forecasts, buoy reports, some vague longing), road conditions (traffic holdups, police pull-overs, pit stops), perfect (or not) conditions, perfect (or not) waves; waves ridden (estimated number and exaggerated size), selected awesome rides, memorable wipeouts; interesting (or irritating) people encountered, car problems (or not); where you stopped (coming and going), what you ate; and, most importantly, where you’d rank this trip in the banked memories of however trips you’ve taken?

I have actually been thinking about this a while.  For most of us, who we share our adventures with (and don’t even claim to have never even wanted to share something about that surprise barrel you got on an inside section of what you had thought was going to be a closeout), comes down to who you trust not to share this exciting info with someone who will blab it around, or worse, someone undeserving.

If you’ve learned, over years of skunkings and scorings, under which conditions this spot or that spot has worked in the past; accumulated anecdotal information, what you have is, actually, data.  DATA. 

BLABBERS and the UNDESERVING: Why the fuck would you want to give this DATA to some person who hasn’t put in the miles and the hours in the search?  Why would you tell someone you’ve just met at some beach where the waves aren’t happening that they just might be breaking at…?

Because surfers ask.  Because they want to know.  The same surfers who ask what you know might just show up at the beach you mentioned, paddle up just inside of you in the lineup, and say, “MY WAVE!”

That’s the fear.  It has happened. 

swamis

“Erwin…waikiki-crowds told me it’d be good.” “Yeah, that’s where I heard it.”  “My wave!”

SO, HERE I AM, with my (desperately) tiny little website, started as a platform on which to write about surf adventures years and miles away (before I became aware that I have another surf life here and now), and I’m restricted from recounting all the shit from the first paragraph because of the then-listed reasons.  Mistrust and a certain desire to not add to the folks in the lineup the next time I go.

SO (I’m trying to go through this with some sort or sense of logic), my not blabbing is the result of PEER PRESSURE and a certain amount of GREEDINESS. 

BUT, I sort of learned what not to say, what not to show, over time.  Yeah, at first, I did write about where I went, what I found.  I named spots and conditions.  NO. NOPE.  In fact, I wrote, years ago, about my first session at a very fickle spot.  It was published in the local newspaper.  Every surfer who was out that day, and many who weren’t had something to say next time we met up (at another beach or, yes, at a grocery store or pumping gas).  Mostly it was, “You can’t put that out there,” and, “Hey, did you see that one ride?”

NOW, MAYBE, it’s clear that I’m not going to even say there are even (ever) waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (from hereon referred to as SoJdF, you’ll see why), I suddenly have been made aware (suddenly because, evidently, despite having a mouth for sarcasm, I don’t have an ear for it) that, maybe it’s not okay to mention that there are ever, EVER, any good waves at (in this case) WESTPORT and/or (by extension) SEASIDE, and/or (by further extension) ANYWHERE.  NO WAVES.  NOWHERE.  NOHOW. 

Oh, maybe somewhere over the rainbow.  OZ.  No, not that OZ.  No waves. Never.  And, I hear, it’s always crowded.

HERE’S THE COMMENT I misinterpreted, from PWA (not his or her real name, I am assuming) in response to my piece, “Sometimes Westport is an Option”: “I was wondering if you had any pictures you could share of those epic empty spots that line Washington’s northern coast. Just asking.”

I wrote back: “Wait.  Checking.  Checking.”

Then, after I’d posted “Cougar- Northwest Spirit Animal, plus…”, PWA wrote, and this is his punctuation: “Be honest im sure you had plenty time to consider the personal ramifications of publishing photos of the epic surf spots of lining SOJDF (see, told you, SoJdF is how I’ll now, forever, present it).  That was a very nice day at WP and you know the internet these days.  So put 2 and 2 together and just because its not your locale try keep on things the DL (Trish told me this means ‘downlow’) a little more thats all I ask.”

SO PWA, OKAY.  AND, UM, THANKS.  I guess I thought Westport wasn’t a secret spot; that it was fair game for mentioning by name.  AND, in my defense, I thought I suggested, at least, that it’s usually not anywhere near epic.  I hope no one went to Westport with unrealistic expectations because of something I wrote.  Sidenote: I get Stats from WordPress; and, to date, nothing on realsurfers.net has ever gone viral.  Oh, there was a cough, once, but it may have been a mistake.

MEANWHILE, up until 1979, and a few times after, there were waves at places like Swamis, Sunset Cliffs, P.B. Point, Crystal Pier, Windansea, Pipes, Grandview, Ocean Beach, Oceanside (pier and harbor, and in-between), Swamis (upper, lower, middles, church), San Onofre, Cardiff Reef, Blacks…

ALSO, I do have a story I’m dying to tell, conflict and conquest and waves and all.  I’ve already passed it on to a few of the people I trust.  Good story.  OKAY, the takeaway is this: None of us own waves; we’re blessed to ride a few.  OH, and don’t ever call my friend (name withheld) a kook.  KOOK.

IN CONCLUSION: Surfers love to tell stories. If you meet me at some beach or grocery store or gas station, and you convince me you can be trusted, I might tell you about that super secret spot that doesn’t ever, EVER have waves.  IF you believe you can trust me, tell me about any spot I’ll never even attempt to go to, and… no, no reason to trust me.  Or, maybe I’ll tell you about the last time I checked out Westport.

It was crowded AND shitty.     

Advertisements

Burning Scott Sullivan (Parts Two and One)

                                                A Second- 2nd Scott Sullivan Encounter/Incident

-PART TWO-

IT WAS JUST A SECOND, really; two Costco shoppers passing in the dairy/coffee aisle in the Sequim warehouse/store.

You don’t recognize people you don’t really know instantly; it takes a second.  We were both in a hurry; he with one of the big orange carts, me with the regular one (slightly larger, you might have noticed, than one at a regular supermarket- or, even, WalMart).

I think it was his mustache.  Yeah, one of those with the ends twisted and skinny, and pretty much brown.

SCOTT SULLIVAN.

I thought, or, possibly, imagined, that we made eye contact. Split the above second. Maybe he thought he recognized me. Maybe.

Not that he might instantly remember where and when we met previously; the first Scott Sullivan Encounter

NOW, I was wearing an ORIGINAL ERWIN t shirt, the baby poop yellow one with the lacy white wave. YEAH, that one (the baby poop thing is from Trish, I call the color ‘golden haze’); and, hey, I do have a possibly-recognizable mustache/soul patch combo of my own, white, with, quite often, coffee-stain brown at the scraggly bottom edges.

I didn’t just do an over-the-shoulder lookback, I DID A PIVOT/HALF TURN, right between the doors for the sour cream/cottage cheese and the one percent milk.

YES, Scott Sullivan; had to be, pushing toward the final goal, checkout, with a cart full of dairy products, flour, other fixins for making PIZZA.

HAD TO BE.

MY FIRST THOUGHT, with both of us, obviously, having gone, as the place is designed, clockwise from the entrance, past the clothing and lighting and pressure washers and furniture and fruit and meat, was how, suddenly, what I wanted most to do, was to CUT SCOTT SULLIVAN OFF! Exclamation point; BURN HIM at the checkout counter, last second, that split second when one must decide which open register would provide the fastest avenue to the next-but-last Costco line, the one at the exit.

“You think it’s yours, Scott Sullivan? NO! DENIED! Hahaha… ha!

costcoshoppers

IT ISN’T like I have any animosity toward Scott Sullivan, but it is that…

…COSTCO BREEDS COMPETITION.  That’s been my opinion for quite some time.  It’s a constant jockeying for position.  Picture the gas lines.  If only you could fill from the right side.  Durn.  Oh, you have a regular membership card?  I have a Corporate card.  You go for the optimum parking spot; close enough to either the entrance or one of the cart returns in the lot (in Australia, it’s probably the car park). NO, FIRST, you time your visit to when you believe it’ll be the most efficient.

IF YOU GET THERE at opening; sure, you can power through, fill your cart, cross out the items on your list; only to get to the front with fifty or so other dawn patrollers (if dawn is at 10 am), and one register open.  SIMILARLY, if you go late you will miss the free food samples (hummus or guacamole on various crispy items, soup, trail mix, skanky cheese, whatever; always worth a taste) that advanced Costco shoppers (many way more adept than you could be at the gather, half-stepping as another tray is put forth, swoop necessary to hit every sample offered; aka lunch) will elbow-smack you for. THEN AGAIN, lights dimming, everyone else is at the front, two cashiers (and, really, though it seems like a better idea than having the folks at the food court throw out the leftover item, as required, at closing, a slice of 8:29 Costco pizza is not good pizza), and the people at the register you chose need extra assistance in ringing-up that really big TV, the one you can actually watch from your position three back in the line (elsewhere called the queue, which we, in A-merica, don’t really use because we don’t know how to spell it).

STRAIT SLICE PIZZA, 121 1ST STEEET (that’s 101, really, the one-way going in-to-town), PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON; SCOTT SULLIVAN, OWNER.

Unsolicited advertising, Scott Sullivan.

scotSlvanStraitSlice

-PART ONE-

I DID WRITE about my first encounter with the well-known Port Angeles restauranteur, surfer, and, evidently, photographer/skier (or snowboarder, or both- don’t really know) on this very site. AND, WHEN I FOUND OUT HIS NAME, I DID NAME NAMES.  Scott Sullivan.

BUT, at the request of a friend I should probably not name, but will (ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES), I deleted the name; Adam’s main argument being that Scott Sullivan is popular with the P.A. surf crowd; and Erwin Dence is, perhaps, not.  FINE. I also did not, and won’t here, reveal the not-really-secret surf spot where I, allegedly, BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  Feel free to guess.

BRIEF RECAP: I was there with MIKEL (SQUINTZ, still the best nickname I didn’t give someone) COMISKEY; and was, actually, one of the first people out.  It got, over the next two hours, crowded. I was, allegedly, catching more than my fair share of waves.  ALLEGEDLY. Squintz had been surfing a different peak, and had been in and out of the water (some of this due to his refusal to wear booties).  I got out of the water about the time Scott Sullivan came powering down to this peak, took off on a wave, and, moving up to a forward trim position, caught an outside edge on the inside; his leashless board nearly hitting a young woman.

That’s not really relevant. BUT, surfers do seem to kind of brag about how they’re leash-free, as if it equates to confidence or ability (and it may), while giving little to no beach cred to folks (me, for example) who surfed, pre-leash, ankle-naked, for seven or eight years before giving in to the swim- (and, often, swimmer) saving kook cord.

SO, now Squintz is trying to convince me, with the wind coming up, that, now that he’s at this peak, more waves will be coming.  OKAY, I paddle back out. AND, A FEW MINUTES LATER, there is, indeed, an outside set. I paddle over the first one, then the second, paddle toward the peak. I turn, start paddling for it.  I AM COMMITTED. That commitment is the key to my defense, your honor(s). 

BUT, SUDDENLY, Scott Sullivan maneuvers closer to the peak, turns, and takes off.

SO, by the rules handed down, unofficial but not unknown (passed through constant lectures and occasional ass-whippings), Scott Sullivan had priority.  PRIORITY. It was Scott Sullivan’s wave.

AGAIN, I was committed, couldn’t really bail at that moment.  WELL, if I did just dismount, the way one would (and I have) if there’s a danger of imminent contact with some kook who decided to paddle out rather than around, this might not be the story of how I BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  I didn’t.  I was COMMITTED.

WHOA!   Okay, I did do what I believe to be the right thing; the thing I would want someone to do if they inadvertently took off in front of me.  I powered down the line, pulled over the top.  NOW, I still believe I heard something behind me, something like grumbling (or yelling- I do wear protective earplugs). 

FORTUNATELY, there was a fourth wave.  I took it.  I rode as far as I could.  PADDLING back (around the break), I observed big, angry arm movements from Scott Sullivan, directed, in my absence, at Mikel Squintz.  When I got back to the lineup, Scott Sullivan was gone, having moved to a position farther up the point.  “Um, uh; guess he’s kind of mad,” I said.  “Yeah.” “I was committed.” “Sure.” “Who is that guy?” “That’s what he asked about you.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he said that you’re not even from around here, and I said, ‘wait a minute, you’re from _________ (my memory isn’t clear on which upper east coast state Scott Sullivan came here from),’ and he just left.  You could apologize.”  “Apologize?” “Maybe.” “Sure.”

Mikel did mention that, even with the increased crowd, Scott Sullivan and I did seem to be getting most of the waves ridden. “And?” “Just saying.”

I did, incidentally, move to the OLYMPIC PENINSULA in 1978, first surfed this very (unnamed here) spot in January of 1979.  With useless California wax, an insufficient wetsuit, and, yes, a leash. 

SO, since I was well past ready to get out of the water, I paddled up toward Scott Sullivan.  “If I, um… if you thought I…” “I go surfing to get away from that kind of shit,” Scott Sullivan said.  “We all do,” I said, and paddled on. 

I’m sure I stopped at Costco on the way home.  I usually do.  Here’s a shot of me, in the ORIGINAL ERWIN shirt I was wearing, just in case,. So non-threatening. 

20181025_143412_resized

WAIT. ABOUT THE  BURNING from Part Two.  Didn’t happen. I had to stop to get peanuts for our yardbirds.  Scott Sullivan was long gone.  He, obviously, picked the right line.  ABOUT THE PIZZA.  I haven’t tried a Strait Slice slice; assume they’re great; I do know where some of the makins come from.  

Four Days Strait

OKAY, If I choose to write about surfing, surf culture, real surfers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I can, because it’s America (one day from Memorial Day, and the official start to outdoor grilling season), I can say pretty much whatever I want.  Freedom.  YEAH, well; then there’s popular sentiment and, I must admit, some self-centered reasons for not writing EVERYTHING.

HERE’S what I can’t write about: CAN’T name spots, even those pretty much everyone who has ever surfed the Strait knows; CAN’T publish photos of any waves over one foot (should these photos even exist); CAN’T divulge tide/wind/swell direction formulas (mine or any one else’s) for determining best chances to avoid getting skunked (even if not getting skunked means, merely, getting some of those previously-mentioned one footers); CAN’T besmirch or demean any local surfers by name or, even, by giving away clues as to the identity of said locals (and I’m not defining or arguing your definition of locals here).

In the non-writing category, the main no-no is calling up your buddy from some spot with one footers sloppily lapping on rocky shores (and, hopefully, you’re being charged Canadian roaming fees, with tariffs), with a ‘Hey, Hipster-Bud, High-Bank is just f’ing firing. Calf-high sets. No, really. How long it might take you to get here from Gold Bar? No, I don’t know about the ferry backup or if the Hood Canal Bridge is closed, or if 101 is closed due to an accident, or if downed trees are blocking 112. Sheet, man; I’m just trying to get you some waves.”

It is kind of okay to tell surf stories and reveal surf secrets to people who have no real interest in ever challenging you for a set wave; and it’s kind of okay to brag about your latest surf exploits to a few friends, AFTER THE FACT.

Most of these ‘can’ts’ are, admittedly, self-serving.  Surfing is just sooooo cool.  I don’t mind (or fear) saying that.  I don’t want MORE SURFERS in the water; some of them, undoubtedly, ready to get pissed-off because someone might be getting more tiny tubes than they are.  Or many more.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT for not sharing is that it takes away from the joy one will feel when discovering these things for him or herself.  YEP, there’s nothing like the thrill of hiking through the woods, down a slippery trail, only to find… nothing.  NEXT TIME.

ANYWAY, I will reveal two of my secrets: If Keith goes camping or Adam makes a stealth run; there will be something.  A problem there is, they might not (probably won’t) let me know until it’s over, or, at best, when that small window is closing.

SO, one (non-specific) day last week, checking the buoy readings and tea leaves frequently; I decided to go (mostly because my painting project get shut down due to the client not happy with the color she chose).  I talked my friend, Stephen Davis, into going with me, promising waves based on the hope that the angle would improve, and that Keith was out there somewhere, no doubt, scoring  AND, SURE ENOUGH, it was big enough to ride if one didn’t worry about losing another fin.

SIDEBAR: Tyler Meeks had a bunch of fins for sale at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, sold them all.  ADVICE: If you go, bring extras.

20190522_205422

Okay, if you recognize the spot, one, don’t tell anyone; and, if you do, be sure to say this is a big day.

BUT, since I’m not the only one willing to be fooled by buoy reading that should mean waves, there’s always the enjoyment of hanging out.

20190522_182419I keep forgetting to take photos of real surfers, but here’s Tugboat Bill, ready to rip.

This is Gavin, originally from South Africa (once sat next to Jordy Smith at a restaurant at Jeffry’s Bay), an electrician and Whistler ski instructor; cooking lamb (smells good, not willing to taste it- did once) after his wife, Char, invited Steve and I to tour his Sprinter van. Though Steve is planning on going to Baja soon, Gavin is “through with Baja.”20190522_182550

So, yeah; one learns a lot while hanging around and waiting. NOT PICTURED is this other guy who was sitting on a five gallon bucket when we got there, quite willing to talk about how, possibly because he disrespected some Hawaiians, he suffered… (I don’t want to get into it, and, because he kept talking about it, I decided to risk my last unbroken fin).

AND, I MUST ADD, others pulled into the parking area, drawn by the hope and the anticipation.  DARREN was lured into the water, possibly, noting that SEAN, teacher from P.A., and I were rock-skimming.

STEPHEN took a nap.

SO, THREE DAYS LATER, Adam having made at least one stealth strike, Keith extending his camping trip, Steve and I risked skunking again.  And, now, finally something I can’t write about.  I have at least one photo, though I should have taken more that I can’t publish; more of real surfers.

 

Here’s my daughter, Drucilla’s, new van and the woman she bought it from. Le (pronounced Lee, but, she told me, ‘with just one e’), originally from Vietnam, but of Chinese ancestry, and… things you learn in parking lots. This one is outside the Quilcene Post Office, down on Surf Route 101.  The second photo is of the Deli section in the Poulsbo WalMart, taken because, there, partially because Dru only has a learner’s permit, and I was the duty instructor; but, mostly, because, Trish (at home on the phone) didn’t believe that there was no longer a place where one could get non-pre-packaged macaroni salad.

YEAH, not a surf story.  Not that I don’t have some.  SO, to all folks in the many many vehicles with multiple surfboards on them, with hopes and anticipation of overhead bombs; GOOD LUCK; hope you have some great stories you can’t tell.

Except, maybe, in some distant, out of cell range parking area.

Black Flagging-It

I’m not sure if this current flag, a sign keeping surfers out of a zone so non-boardies can float and bob and cavort, is the same one they used back when I was defying them.

blackballflag

I probably thought of this because I’ve been spending (somewhere between investing and wasting) some time watching the Supergirl Pro from Oceanside Pier. I did lose a portion of my interest when Stephanie Gilmore didn’t advance, a little more when the waves dropped off, but, hey, I did spend a lot of time at this pier.

It was the go-to spot for beach-going when I was a kid in Fallbrook, 20 miles away, wading out among the marines and their girlfriends (there was a lot of “From Here to Eternity” style romancing, I noticed), learning about the power and excitement of waves.

I did have to, sort of, get rescued, once, by neighbor mom, Arthella; when, around 8 years old or so, I pearled my styrofoam surfie, broke it in half with the collision between sand and stomach. Not that I really needed rescuing.

Fast forward to the party celebrating graduating from 6th grade. I was the almost-12 year old wearing the speedos, just like my Dad.  None of the other boys were wearing them. I would say more, but modesty…

Fast forward to 1965, the prestigious Oceanside Invitational happening, and, while my sister, Suellen, was (embarrassingly, for me) getting autographs from surfers on the beach (and the only name I remember is Mike Doyle, his mother bringing him a sack lunch), and despite my only having started board surfing a month or so before, I paddled right out among the warming-up competitors (embarrassing, no doubt, for Suellen). No, I had progressed to jams by this time.

What I didn’t know until last night, when Trish and I were google-mapping to see what the building I worked in, Buddy’s Sign Service, 1st and Tremont, looks like now; is that Trish was also at that contest, not getting autographs from surfers, not doing anything embarrassing.

Oh, got to go. Part II coming soon. Oh, second semi-final is on, but I have to go.

Summer Stories (1) At the Sequim Costco Gas Station…

…just to not be unfriendly (yeah, it’s almost a double negative- evidently now acceptable), I said something (probably a “How’s it going?”) to the woman on duty, her job to wanders around the gas pumps, answering questions like, “Prices going up or down?”, “Which way do I slide my card?”, and “Nice day, isn’t it?”

“Fine,” she answered. I would say she was an older woman, but, increasingly, ‘older’ can still be younger than I am. She checked out the 10’6″ Hobie Standup strapped on my Toyota wagon. “How’s your day going?”

I was, of course, though my small and half-full (not half-empty) tank would be filled rather quickly; and because there was no one waiting impatiently behind me; ready to tell her more than she wanted to know about how my day was going.

Okay, so this isn’t a photo of her; it is from Costco, and I do like the samples. It’s kind of a tradition of mine, stopping at Costco on the way home; kind of like lowering the cost of the surf/shopping trip. AND, when I’d go surfing with my friend Archie Endo, we’d hit the samples almost as hard as the locals, swarming and swooping, elbows and walking sticks flailing, rather like a crowded lineup.

costco 2

So, instead of the hairnet, the attendant was wearing a boonie hat, last year’s model, and while I was blathering about how, yeah, I’d always surfed, learned in California, and, on this day, someone had said that my riding a bigger board was cheating, and I’d said, “Well, they’re available for purchase,” and I, at least thought- did say later, to several people, “There’s catching waves, and there’s riding waves;” it came out that she had lived all around Orange County, including Dana Point, home of Hobie,  and had graduated from high school in Mission Viejo in 1973 (yeah, younger).

“Whoa,” I, undoubtedly said, “When I was a kid in the North (San Diego) County, there was nothing there.” Evidently, while Fallbrook Union High School had been around for years, her high school started in 1966.

“I was always around surfing,” she said, “but never took it up. It’s great that you’re still doing it.”

“Yeah,” I said, “even if people think I’m cheating.”

Now it was time to move. Someone was behind me, the tank was two clicks over full, I had done the math (32mpg- great, though it varies).

She had time to tell me that she had once driven a bus with a rider who surfed named Dino Andino. “And his son is…” “Yeah, Kalohe.”

“You know,” she said as I pulled away (and I might be forgiven if I took her look to mean ‘fuck ’em’), “keep on surfing.”

Oh, I intend to.

Prologue- Giving Up Sarcasm

I was trying to find an address in the North Beach area of Port Townsend, thought I’d recheck a shingle-sided house I had bleached and pressure-washed a few months back to get a better idea on what to propose for painting the trim.

There was a truck with a boat on a trailer and an SUV parked in front of the fence. WAIT, there’s a surfboard on the SUV; a flashy board (looking at it from the side- radically upswept nose, canted bonzer fins, two on each side, longer fin in the middle). Has to belong to a ripper. Radical. This was a couldn’t-pearl (even on a heavy pitcher), late-drop, free-fall, catch-and-climb, drive-and-swoop, pro-level unit.

NOW I had to find out who owned this board.

AND I DID. Ripper? Pro? Actually, no. In the question-and-answer, first-meeting-scenarios between (supposed, alleged, self-identified) surfers, where no one truly believes the other person is really a surfer (even if he or she fits perfectly into one’s image of one) unless he or she has personally witnessed him or her actually riding waves; I can tend to be a bit, um, aggressive.

And then throw in the sarcasm, sometimes-biting repartee I’ve learned and developed over many years; a trait (or skill) I’ve been trying to cut back on…and. when the owner of the board, the 40ish son of the owners of the house, said he wasn’t kidding (backed-up by his Mom) that he’d just started surfing, like, two weeks ago…

…and just when I was trying so hard to quit the sarcasm, to occasionally hold back on making the snarky observation, the possibly-rude assessment. “Two weeks, huh?  Well…”

OKAY, so here’s my latest drawing: Picture it on a t shirt.

Image (80)

What? What do you mean by that?

 

Sideslipping With Archie Endo and Big Dave

When we hang out with other surfers, we kind of brush up against their lives, their stories. We get a brief glimpse, a snapshot.

20180502_091422_resized

It’s not clear, and it’s nowhere near a complete picture of someone else’s life; and it’s not enough.

This piece is about a recent trip. Archie, still not recovered enough from the stroke he suffered over a year ago to surf, riding with me to check out one of his favorite surf spots. Finding actually ‘surfable’ (Archie’s term) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca was, as always, a gamble; and this run was scheduled less on surf forecast, and more on time left before Archie had to (today, in fact) return to his working life (middle man in the fishing industry) in Thailand.

That’s not enough information. Atsushi “Archie” Endo, duel citizen, learned to surf in Japan. Somewhat a radical, he was never interested in short boards. He surfed (and will again) with a throwback, 1960s glide; all about wave positioning edge control. I’ve never seen him even try to noseride.  He plays drums and (I’m going to say it) bitchin’ surf guitar, and has an incredible interest in music and language.

An expert in salmon (though now, I think, he’s mostly dealing in Tuna) Archie’s expertise has taken him to coastal locations all over the world.

2013 photos 407Archie is also known for his collection of retro vehicles. This photo was taken a few years ago. Note the lack of surf in the background.

20180502_085813_resized

(above) One of Archie’s cars.

On this trip, the only one at this not-secret-spot was Big Dave. While waiting around for the tide to get a bit better (or the waves to get bigger, or something), I probably learned more about Big Dave than I knew from the run-ins with him over the past dozen years.

thumbnail_20180501_095106

It’s Big Dave on the left, currently sporting a beard. Now, here’s our connection: When I moved to the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, 20 years old, 1971, Dave was, along with Joe Roper, one of those Crystal “Pier Rats” (his term), 15 years old. It’s not like we hung out; but we were, no doubt, in the water together numerous times.

Archie, at some later date, lived in San Diego; and, he says, one of his favorite surf spots, anywhere, was the P.B. Point, Tourmaline Canyon area. “I lived right up the bluff,” I said. “My parents lived on Thomas Street,” Big Dave said. “In the neighborhood.”

Now; what I learned. While I came to the northwest up I-5 in a U-Haul, Dave sailed here from Hawaii. Dave has stories of sneaking into Ralph’s, having a friend’s boat hit the rocks at Dolphin Tanks, other stories that make the best of mine seem pretty punky.

So; that’s the past. Nowadays Dave is noted for extra long sessions. While I had heard he spent eight hours straight in the water on a recent swell, he said, “It was more like ten. It was a ‘one more wave’ kind of thing.”

 

Dave, again, on the left. It’s not just like he sits there. Big Dave catches a lot of waves.

BigDaveleft

So, on this day, with Archie watching from the stadium chair Trish insisted I bring, Big Dave and I were trading off waves. When I said, because the waves were sectioning-off, I had to go down the line a bit rather than stay in the pocket, he asked, “What part of Seattle are you from again?”

When I insisted I was staying high on the waves in order to make the inside section, with the option of pulling out or doing a floater (as opposed to dropping low and ‘barrel dodging,’ an Adam Wipeout phrase), Dave gave me a bit of a tutorial on sideslipping. On my next wave, approaching the inside section, with him paddling out, I reached (as per instruction) for the outside rail. “Hey, what about the paddle?”  Then I went high on the wave, sideslipped back under the lip and onto the face. As per instruction.

It’s not like I haven’t done this before. That’s my defense.

I did take a break after three hours or so, with the excuse that it was rude to leave Archie alone on the beach for so long. Archie insisted he was enjoying it. So, back out for another two hours.

I’m pretty sure Dave got out before Archie and I left.  He probably went back out for ‘one more wave.’ Or so.

We do run into some colorful characters in life. I can keep up with Archie on Hotmail. Big Dave drives a dump truck for Jefferson County; I see him occasionally on the road. Here’s how close we are: When I asked him for his cell phone number, he said he could give me one digit each time we meet. Adam James thought this was the funniest thing. “You could probably guess the first number is a three; huh?”

“Huh?”

A Nod is Good Enough- John Severson

 

 

IN MY MIND-VIDEO VERSION of the very brief encounter; looking past the front desk where the receptionist was still telling me that “John, John Severson, actually reads over all the submissions himself, so, so…” when John, John Severson; appeared through an open door, moving from the right to the center of the (my) frame, to the center of what must have been the visitor side of his desk. He stopped, looking at something, then turned toward the visitor side of the “Surfer” magazine office, maybe focused for a moment, and gave the almost-seventeen kid a nod.

I probably just froze.

A NOD is everything, really; an acknowledgement of co-membership, perhaps; a gesture that says, depending on who gives it, that things are all right between us.

YEAH, maybe that’s reading too much into a simple gesture. Or not. Maybe a nod is just so ancient, so basically human, we forget that each one of us learns more from studying expressions than we do from language. In a fight-or-flight world, a nod can and has stopped many a conflict.

OKAY, now I’m thinking of times I’ve paddled out into a lineup, seen a surfer I chatted with on another beach. Nod. Nod returned. AND NOW I’m thinking of my first venture out at Windansea, seeing two guys I’d surfed around in Pacific Beach. I nodded, they, sitting well on the shoulder, kept their gaze down. No eye contact. AND NOW I’m thinking of the times my nod, paddling toward the lineup, was returned with the STINKEYE.

SO, I had written a bunch of stuff, my best longhand on college-ruled notebook paper, and had sent it, along with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, to “SURFER” magazine. I waited for fame and recognition, my writings in the preeminent surf publication, the magazine I studied, front to back; the basic visual images that popped up like a slide show in my dreams.

“They’ll probably have to put some in one edition, other stuff in the next one,” I, no doubt, thought. “My friends will be so… so stoked. Me, my writings…”

I did mention I waited, telling myself this sort of self-induced insanity (waiting for someone else to realize one’s stuff is great), is what a real writer endures.

THIS WAS ME in the summer of 1968, living in Fallbrook, twenty miles from Oceanside pier, about the same distance, straight west, across Camp Pendleton, to San Onofre. If I was riding with someone who had the proper ID card, we’d often surf there, park on the beach. Otherwise, it was go to Oceanside, north on 101 (pre- I-5 connection), deemed “Slaughter Alley.” The “Surfer” magazine headquarters was somewhere north of there. I’d find it.

A WORD on what I’d written: Mostly, I’ll have to guess, crap; the kind of overwrought drivel one might expect from a hormone-afflicted, surf-crazed, skateboarding-‘cause-I-fuckin’-live-in-the-hills dreamer, just starting to get competent at surfing might right. There were pages of the stuff.

borrowed from “Surfer,” article on John Severson staring down Richard Nixon

WHAT I WROTE as a twelve verse (epic?) poem on those blocking access to surf beaches, became, in the fall of 1968, when I was back in school, shorter, better. I’m not sure if I ever got my original pages back, but I received a check for ten dollars and a copy of the magazine.

I WAS PUBLISHED. Oh, I mean, I WAS PUBLISHED! But, what John Severson had done is take the first verse, delete everything from the middle, add some of the lines from the last verse. It had changed enough from the original that, when asked to read it aloud in English class, I couldn’t quite get it right. “Didn’t you write this?” “Yeah, yeah, but…different.” Penny had to read it. She did a great job.

STILL, it was, probably, still a bit, um, overwrought.

IN 2001, the poem showed up again, in “The Perfect Day… 40 Years of Surfer Magazine.” I was, by this time, up in the Pacific Northwest, rarely surfing. Trisha’s nephew, Dylan Scott, surfing down in San Diego, saw the coffee table book, surprise, on a coffee table at his dentist’s office. “That’s my uncle,” he, according to him, said. “Whoa. Really? My poem?” Yes, we do own the book; it’s on a coffee table.

HERE’S the poem, written by me, edited by John Severson (he even shortened the title, though I forget what it was).

REFLECTION

The promised sand, Forbidden land,

Restraining line With sharpened spine;

NO SURFING HERE: The warning sign.

Perfection waves, Reflecting mind;

Humanity

Could be so blind.

HERE’S WHAT JOHN SEVERSON DID: He gave a nod to all the punks and kooks and kids who wanted to be surfers. He took a disparate group and made us a tribe. If we don’t always acknowledge this in the competitive, sometimes combative setting of the lineup; it’s hopefully different when surfers meet in some other setting, a grocery store or distant parking lot. A nod of acknowledgement.

I’m actually a bit amazed at how shocked and saddened I am at hearing of Severson’s passing.

The Line Between Respect and Pity

I’ve been trying to get an image of how thick that line is for a couple of days; or even if this is the line I’m really concerned with. Maybe, probably, I’m a bit too sensitive to my own position, as I, um, mature… okay, we’ll just say ‘age,’ in the overall surfer lineup. Maybe? Definitely.  Actually, I always have been.

When I first started board surfing, I’d sneak into the pack at Tamarack as if I belonged there, a big, kook smile on my 13, almost 14 year old face. Soon I was paddling, head down and blind, into a wave at Swamis that, undoubtedly, had someone on it, with me as an impediment to a great ride. I did stay in the lagoon section at pre-jetty extension at Doheny, an eye on the surfers out on the reef. I was learning, frequently thrashed by waves, but always happy to be out there.

It wasn’t too long a time before I tried, hard, to be one of the better surfers out on any given day. Competitive.

This hasn’t changed in fifty-two years. Hasn’t changed yet. Yet, though I’ve always pushed them, I’ve always known my limitations. At least I knew there are limitations. When I was a kook, I knew it. If I didn’t, other surfers told me. I was told to go (by one guy in particular, but also by consensus) to the Carlsbad Slough to practice knee paddling when I pearled on an outside wave, causing four or five surfers to scramble. I didn’t go, but moved away from the main peak. I was sent to the south peak at Grandview when I lost my board in a failed kickout, putting a ding in John Amsterdam’s brand new Dewey Weber Performer. I did go, looking longingly back at the rights.

It’s not me, though I did once have a VW bus (and hair)

Another lost board incident, with a near miss with some stinkbug-stanced kook Marine swimming after his borrowed-or-rented board found him standing on my board in the shallows. “You like this board,” he asked, threatening to break it into “a million pieces if I ever tried to hit him with it again.” He had two friends to back him up; I had my second brother down, Philip. “Okay.” Still, I paddled back out, ten feet away from him and his friends, brave look on my face.

I persisted. With the nearest waves twenty miles from Fallbrook, I always went out. South wind, north wind, white-caps, big or small. There were setbacks, times I just couldn’t connect, couldn’t get into the rhythm; days where trying to get out for another closeout seemed like more work than it was worth; but I was improving.

Hey, this will have to be part one; I just have to go, and I don’t have the whole arc figured out. I’ll be sixty-six in August; I’m still as stoked (and as immature, emotionally) as ever; still want to be, during any given surf session, competitive.  I do admit to having more handicaps than I’d like.  I’ve adjusted. Bigger board, mostly.

I had two sessions this week; the first, at a mutant slab with a massive current. I was humbled.  While I was thrashed and sucked, others were thrashed and got some great rides. I would love to say I wasn’t embarrassed as much as disappointed in myself. That’s what I’d love to say; the truth is, again, I’m still working that out.   Possibly to make up for this, I went to a more user-friendly spot the next day. I didn’t suck.

just coming up. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Not really surprisingly, a couple of older surfers I’ve surfed with before showed up. When the waves went from almost flat to pretty darn good, one of them, as cool a surfer as one would meet, admitted that, when he sees great waves, “I just get giddy!”

This giddiness, something so profound that we can forget the posturing and coolness, is at the very heart of surfing. It’s something common to all real surfers. Maybe it takes a better wave to bring it out in some, but that bustable smile is there.  We’re all, occasionally, humbled.  The ocean always gets the last word.  Not actually ready to be humble, yet, I’m persisting.

 

NO SURF… No, there’s always surf…

…somewhere. Usually somewhere else. I’m, luckily, pretty busy painting, today being the only day lately where rain isn’t threatening or falling. Since there are no swell forecasts that predict anything close, and I don’t have time to go to the coast, I googled/yahooed ‘no surf,’ got this image.

Luscombs

The cove is, evidently, now called ‘No Surf Beach,’ along Sunset Cliffs. I actually have a couple of stories about the spot. The first involves Stephen Penn and I, both twenty years old, freshly married and living in San Diego. Steve, formerly of Marin County, and his wife, formerly Dru Urner, formerly of Fallbrook, were living in Ocean Beach; Trish and I in Pacific Beach. Our daughter, Drucilla (born on earth day, April 22, 1980, before it was Earth Day- and, oddly enough, as I edit this, it’s again Earth Day- Happy Birthday), is actually named after Dru, a promise Trish made to Drucilla Urner, evidently in typing class back in high school.

It was 1972, and Steve and I went looking for waves. I had surfed Sunset Cliffs before, but at Luscombs, the point in the distance, and once at New Break (with Bucky Davis and Phillip Harper, walking in back in 1967- we had no problems with locals). When Steve and I arrived at the little parking area in the foreground, there were four or five surfers at the little peak. The tide was lower and the peak was closer to the foreground point. I thought these other surfers were less a problem than Steve did. “They’ll leave,” I said. “Just start catching waves.”

Now, I don’t want to sound all aggro about this, though I may have been a little more exuberant while trying to convince Stephen to go out. It was either here or Ocean Beach jetty. Surfing mostly Crystal Pier, mostly after work and on weekends, with strangers, since Trish and I got married in November 1971 had pushed me toward a sort of ghetto mentality. It wasn’t surfing Swamis beachbreak with friends. This was city surfing. No eye contact.

Yeah, still dealing with my wave lust, bad manners. I wasn’t, I insist, pushy, merely persistent, going for position when possible, always ready for waves someone missed or fell on.

Three hours or so later, with three or four different surfers sharing the lineup, with the tide filling in and the waves ending on the mossy ledge beyond the pinnacle rock, Steve and I were climbing back up the cliff. With almost all of my surfing done between/before/after school/work/other-seemingly-or-actually important-stuff, forty-five minutes to an hour an a half, with me mentally breaking it into fifteen minute ‘heats,’ this was one of the longest sessions I had surfed. I was exhausted.

Maybe it was the competition. I couldn’t get out of the water before Steve; and the waves kept coming. I have more to say on the whole waves vs. life subject, but … Oh, gotta get to some actually important stuff. If I get some work done, and the waves… you know… I’ll be ready.

Later. WAIT! Since there’s no waves in the local forecast, and not mentioning how Adam Wipeout scored, Mike could have but didn’t, and that I ran into Darrin, who scored on the coast, at Wal-Mart, and because I’m planning on going down to my Dad’s house (now my brother’s house) in Chinook, Washington, here’s a shot I stole from a forecast site.